Legends Get Books They Deserve
Harvey Frommer's Sports Book Review
"When Pride Still Mattered" by David Maraniss
(Simon & Schuster, $26.00, 541pp.) and "Rockne of Notre
Dame" by Ray Robinson (Oxford, $25.00, 290pp.) are two books with
in-depth portraits of two of the most legendary coaches in football
The probing biography by Maraniss is in many ways a
totally new look at the life and times of Vince Lombardi. Complicated,
very well crafted, often poignant - we are there most of all back in the
1960s with the mythic and complex man who transformed the Green Bay
Packers into a football powerhouse.
Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and biographer
and author of "First in His Class", engaged in voluminous
research using hundreds of in-depth, tape-recorded, on-the-record
interviews plus letters, documents and other archival materials. The
result is a book that is a true page-turner that will provide insights
into Vince Lombardi worth knowing. Much more than just a sports book,
"When Pride Still Mattered" is a sweeping narrative that places
Lombardi within the context of the America and the sports world he
"Rockne of Notre Dame" by Ray Robinson is an
old-fashioned kind of sports book that makes for highly enjoyable reading.
It is the bringing to life of Knute Rockne, the legendary college coach
who won 105 games in just a dozen (five of them undefeated) seasons at
"In the ROARING TWENTIES", Robinson starts off
his introduction - "when sports icons were as potent as bathtub gin,
Knute Rockne of Notre Dame was to college football what Babe Ruth was to
baseball, what Jack Dempsey was to boxing, what Bill Tilden was to tennis,
and what Bobby Jones was to golf. Rockne was one of the most formidable
and dynamic figures of that impressionable era ...." That he was.
And we are given the full biographical treatment from
Rockne's birth in Norway through the great glory days at Notre Dame
through his untimely and tragic death in a plane crash in 1931.
Vince Lombardi died more than a quarter century ago yet
his legacy lives on in Green Bay and throughout the National Football
League. He was the man who uttered the line: "Winning isn't
everything. It's the only thing. " But Maraniss replays that line in
the context of Lombardi's time and gives it an interesting new spin.
Taken together, “When Pride Still Mattered" and
"Rockne of Notre Dame" are two sports books that should sit
side-by-side on your bookshelf. Both are well researched
and shed much new light on their subjects.
Bookends: "Running North" by Ann Mariah Cook
(Algonquin Books, $12.95) is a riveting account of how the author's family
moved to Alaska to run the Yukon Quest, the toughest dogsled race in the
world. It is a fascinating book about struggling against nature and
"Golf Rules Plain and Simple" by Mark Russell
(Harper, $10.95) is a little but handsome package explaining most of what
even veterans need to know about the sport.
(January 4, 2000)
# # #
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
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